THE DAMS – CURIOUSER AND CURIOUSER

The Septuagenarian Speaks – published November 8, 2018, Siskiyou Daily News.

“ ‘Curiouser and curiouser!’ cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she forgot how to speak good English.)”

I think I know how Lewis Carroll’s fictional character Alice felt back in 1865.  I’m trying to look at the current proposals to decommission and remove four dams along the Klamath River through Alice’s eyes.  This is what Alice would see, if she were here today:

Around 1922 the California Oregon Power Company (now PacificCorp) built a couple of dams along the Klamath River, the Copco Number 1 and Copco number 2 dams.  The reasons?  Well, primarily to generate electric power in a manner that doesn’t burn fossil fuels or pollute the atmosphere.  And, by the way, the dams facilitated flood control and created some great recreational facilities.

Those two dams worked pretty well, so in 1958 they built the J. C. Boyle Dam, and then again in 1964 they built the Iron Gate Dam.  Gosh, they work pretty well too.  Entire communities have been established around the reservoirs created by the dams.  People have invested their life savings into buying property and building lake-front homes.

As with everything, there are problems, including hindrance to the passage of salmon and proliferation of toxic bacteria (although reasonable scientific minds differ on the causes of these problems).  These are solvable problems, if people would actually put their minds to finding solutions.

But in an effort to avoid finding solutions, agreements were entered into among “stakeholders” who, significantly, did not include the majority of people actually living in the Oregon and California counties in which the dams are located.  The agreements were: “The dams must go!”  It reminds me of: “If it does not fit, you must acquit!”  Do you remember that?  Lewis Carroll’s Alice would not have known about that, back in 1865.

So, if the foregoing isn’t bizarre enough, here is where it really goes over the top.  The “stakeholders” took it to the Department of Interior, whose bureaucrats chanted, “Yes!  The dams must go!”  But then it went to the United States Congress, who said, “No.”

But it ain’t over till its over.  The “stakeholders” found FERC.  The Federal Energy Regulation Commission, an agency comprised of unelected bureaucrats, who now apparently hold the power to demolish four dams and completely devastate the property values of citizens who invested their life savings to build and live there.  If FERC has this awesome power, why didn’t the “stakeholders” go there first?

Back to Alice: “When I used to read fairy tales, I fancied that kind of thing never happened, and now here I am in the middle of one!”

Bob Kaster

Yreka, CA

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